It will soon be easier to establish non-government organizations (NGOs), including industrial associations and chambers of commerce, organizations for science and technology and charity and community services, the State Council announced on Sunday.
According to the plan, establishing these NGOs will only involve registering at civil affairs authorities rather than an evaluation and approval process from the regulators of these industries. The plan marks a breakthrough in China's reform process.
Coping with the registration of NGOs has been a thorny issue for China. NGOs cannot survive if authorities exercise too much control over them, while things can go awry when they are allowed to simply follow their own inclinations. These are the two extremes.
Streamlining the registration process for NGOs meets public demand. Chinese society is developing and the country must develop its governance in line with this. Society should develop methods of self-governance. There has been a trend toward the government intervening less in certain areas when mature NGOs have the capability to shoulder more responsibilities.
China is viewed as being too sensitive toward NGOs. This reform of NGO registration shows that the system is extricating itself from political sensitivity. Chinese society has gradually increased its confidence in terms of self-governance.
This reform will open the doors for the emergence of more NGOs. It will not only lead to the expanding of self-governance within society, but will also lay foundations for social democracy.
There's a clear connection between this reform measure and the country's political reform.
NGOs specializing in legal and religious affairs and foreign NGOs are not included as part of the reform measure this time, which is a safe step. The complexity of these groups is too much for Chinese society to manage at this stage. Their exclusion will help speed up China's reforms and ensure the stability of the process.
In the past, China's NGOs were often affiliated with government institutions.
Those that are being reformed will need to adapt to the changing society, and they won't be able to be quite as cooperative with government directions as in the past.
This will test the government's capability to govern society as well as the maturity of the country toward diversity.
China's reforms must remain orderly. The long chain of reform should not be broken by any single step. As society gradually becomes mature, the steadiness of reforms should come from interactions between the government and society. NGOs should bear more comprehensive responsibilities. These should be incorporated into China's top-down political reforms and involve the active participation of all society.